Poppy Panache

Rich Coral Poppy in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Closeup of Coral Poppy (photo: Kathy Diemer)

Poppies will put them to sleeeeeeeep . . .” purred the Wicked Witch of the West as she stroked her crystal ball.  And if any poppy could cause Dorothy and her friends to doze, it would be the fated Opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, the source of poppy seeds and opium. The Latin botanical name means the “sleep-bringing poppy”, referring to the sedative potential of these opiates.  However, we’re NOT talking about opium poppies, rather their showy, garden friendly relatives the Oriental poppy, Papaver orientale.   

Vibrant Orange Poppies Sizzle in the Garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Vibrant Orange Poppies Sizzle in the Garden (photo: Kathy Diemer)

Papaver orientale (Oriental poppy) is a perennial (zones 3-7) with outrageously flagrant flowers borne on upright stems (some ranging over 30″) in colors from the well recognized flame orange to lustrous reds and luminous whites.  Native to the Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, and northern Iran, Oriental poppies produce a mound of finely cut, hairy foliage in mid-spring. After flowering the foliage dies away entirely, so consider planting a later spring/early summer companion to fill the void.  I love geranium macrorrhizum for this mission; it gently surrounds the poppy until blooming is finished, then competently covers the browning foliage, yet allows the late fall growth to resume without competition.

Papaver orientale provides the opportunity to introduce adventure and excitement to your June garden, only requiring sun and average, well drained soil in return.  Group your poppies to make the boldest statement, and consider planting more sedately hued spring bloomers nearby to help detonate the explosion.  Peonies and baptisia tend to open around the same time and look fabulous when paired with bright colored poppies.  Experiment and see what you can come up with, here are a few varieties to consider:

Turkenlouis-The traditional firecracker orange, ‘Türkenlouis’ is one of the brightest of the bunch. The frilly tangerine blooms atop 30 inch stems absolutely sizzle, especially when paired with bright pink peonies!

Salmon Poppy with Penstemon 'Huskers Red' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Salmon Poppy with Penstemon ‘Huskers Red’ (photo: Kathy Diemer)

Helen Elizabeth- Showy salmon-pink with black center, from 24-30 inches tall. Perfect paired with burgundy foliage such as Penstemon ‘Huskers Red’.

Watermelon-Named for its color, reminiscent of a watermelon’s reddish-pink fruit, this poppy produces ruffled flowers on 25 inch stems.

Heartbeat-If you like hot colors, here’s your chance to play with a stunning, crimson-purple showstopper boasting a stature of almost 3 feet.

King Kong-Who could resist a name like this?  Crinkled petals of bright cherry red with a dark center, ‘King Kong’s’ blooms are large, and tower majestically on 40 inch stems.

Long Awaited 'Patty's Plum' Poppy in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

The Long Awaited, Much Anticipated ‘Patty’s Plum’ Poppy (photo: Kathy Diemer)

Patty’s Plum-Discovered by Patricia Marrow in her compost pile, this 30 inch tall mauve-violet poppy is quite unique.  It took four years for this baby to bloom in my garden.  Was it worth the wait?

Louvre-For a dove white at the front of the border, the petite, slightly ruffled 20 inch ‘Louvre’ is the perfect fit.  Her huge ivory flowers graduate to a soft pink with dramatic black centers.

Try your local nursery, or find these selections and more at: www.whiteflowerfarm.com

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